Mao Tse Tung
Quotations from Mao Tse Tung

21. Self-Reliance and Arduous Struggle


On what basis should our policy rest? It should rest on our own strength, and that means regeneration through one's own efforts. We are not alone; all the countries and people in the world opposed to imperialism are our friends. Nevertheless, we stress regeneration through our own efforts. Relying on the forces we ourselves organize, we can defeat all Chinese and foreign reactionaries.

"The Situation and Our Policy After the Victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan" (August 13, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 20.

We stand for self-reliance. We hope for foreign aid but cannot be dependent on it; we depend on our own efforts, on the creative power of the whole army and the entire people.

"We Must Learn to Do Economic Work" (January 10, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 241.

To win countrywide victory is only the first step in a long march of ten thousand li.... The Chinese revolution is great, but the road after the revolution will be longer, the work greater and more arduous. This must be made clear now in the Party. The comrades must be helped to remain modest, prudent and free from arrogance and rashness in their style of work. The comrades must be helped to preserve the style of plain living and hard struggle.

"Report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (March 5, 1949), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 374. *

We must thoroughly clear away all ideas among our cadres of winning easy victories through good luck, without hard and bitter struggle, without sweat and blood.

"Build Stable Base Areas in the Northeast" (December 28, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 84.

We should carry on constant propaganda among the people on the facts of world progress and the bright future ahead so that they will build their confidence in victory. At the same time, we must tell the people and tell our comrades that there will be twists and turns in our road, There are still many obstacles and difficulties along the road of revolution. The Seventh Congress of our Party assumed that the difficulties would be many, for we preferred to assume there would be more difficulties rather than less. Some comrades do not like to think much about difficulties. But difficulties are facts; we must recognize as many difficulties as there are and should not adopt a "policy of non-recognition". We must recognize difficulties, analyse them and combat them. There are no straight roads in the world; we must be prepared to follow a road that twists and turns and not try to get things on the cheap. It must not be imagined that one fine morning all the reactionaries will go down on their knees of their own accord. In a word, while the prospects are bright, the road has twists and turns. There are still many difficulties ahead that we must not overlook. By uniting with the entire people in a common effort, we can certainly overcome all difficulties and win victory.

"On the Chungking Negotiations" (October 17, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. IV, pp. 59-60.

Anyone who sees only the bright side but not the difficulties cannot fight effectively for the accomplishment of the Party's tasks.

"On Coalition Government" (April 24, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 314.

The wealth of society is created by the workers, peasants and working intellectuals. If they take their destiny into their own hands, follow a Marxist-Leninist line and take an active attitude in solving problems instead of evading them, there will be no difficulty in the world which they cannot overcome.

Introductory note to "The Party Secretary Takes the Lead and All the Party Members Help Run the Co-operatives" (1955), The Socialist Upsurge in China's Countryside, Chinese ed., Vol. I.

The comrades throughout the Party must take all this fully into account and be prepared to overcome all difficulties with an indomitable will and in a planned way. The reactionary forces and we both have difficulties. But the difficulties of the reactionary forces are insurmountable because they are forces on the verge of death and have no future. Our difficulties can be overcome because we are new and rising forces and have a bright future.

"Greet the New High Tide of the Chinese Revolution" (February 1, 1947), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 125.

In times of difficulty we must not lose sight of our achievements, must see the bright future and must pluck up our courage.

"Serve the People" (September 8, 1944), Selected Works, Vol. III, pp. 227-28.

New things always have to experience difficulties and setbacks as they grow. It is sheer fantasy to imagine that the cause of socialism is all plain sailing and easy success, without difficulties and setbacks or the exertion of tremendous efforts.

On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People (February 27, 1957), 1st pocket ed., pp. 32-33.

At certain times in the revolutionary struggle, the difficulties outweigh the favorable conditions and so constitute the principal aspect of the contradiction and the favorable conditions constitute the secondary aspect. But through their efforts the revolutionaries can overcome the difficulties step by step and open up a favorable new situation, thus a difficult situation yields place to a favorable one.

"On Contradiction" (August 1937), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 335.

What is work? Work is struggle. There are difficulties and problems in those places for us to overcome and solve. We go there to work and struggle to overcome these difficulties. A good comrade is one who is more eager to go where the difficulties are greater.

"On the Chungking Negotiations" (October 17, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 58.

There is an ancient Chinese fable called "The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains". It tells of an old man who lived in northern China long, long ago and was known as the Foolish Old Man of North Mountain. His house faced south and beyond his doorway stood the two great peaks, Taihang and Wangwu, obstructing the way. With great determination, he led his sons in digging up these mountains hoe in hand. Another graybeard, known as the Wise Old Man, saw them and said derisively, "How silly of you to do this! It is quite impossible for you few to dig up these two huge mountains." The Foolish Old Man replied, "When I die, my sons will carry on; when they die, there will be my grandsons, and then their sons and grandsons, and so on to infinity. High as they are, the mountains cannot grow any higher and with every bit we dig, they will be that much lower. Why can't we clear them away?" Having refuted the Wise Old Man's wrong view, he went on digging every day, unshaken in his conviction. This moved God, and he sent down two angels, who carried the mountains away on their backs. Today, two big mountains lie like a dead weight on the Chinese people. One is imperialism and the other is feudalism. The Chinese Communist Party has long made up its mind to dig them up. We must persevere and work unceasingly, and we, too, will touch God's heart. Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people. If they stand up and dig together with us, why can't these two mountains be cleared away?

"The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains" (June 11, 1945), Selected Works, Vol. III, p. 322. *


Chapter 22: Methods of Thinking and Methods of Work